As coffee beans are roasted, their chemical and physical properties are altered - flavors are unlocked, sugars begin to caramelize, oils pool at the surface and unique characteristics in taste and aroma form.
Light – Beans are light brown in color with no oil present on the surface. Natural sugars are fully developed and regional characteristics are best distinguished. Snappy, acidic, and mildly toasty. Also known as "Blonde Roast".
Vienna – Medium brown in color with oil just beginning to break on the surface. Sugars have begun to caramelize and full, rich flavor is achieved. Sweet, balanced, and medium-bodied.
French – Darker brown in color with an oily surface. Sugars are beginning to burn and acidity is diminished, but regional characteristics are still present and balanced. Robust, rich, and full-flavored.
Italian – Very dark and oily beans. Sugars are fully burnt and regional characteristics are no longer distinguishable. Smoky, intense, and bittersweet.
Processing is the conversion of the fruit of the coffee plant into a green bean ready to be roasted. Depending on the process method, the green bean holds certain flavor characteristics that are unlocked during roasting.
Natural – The coffee is sun-dried with the coffee cherry still intact, imparting a flavorful, fruity sweetness. Characteristics of the bean itself are more masked than in washed process.
Honey - Partially washed coffee, with only a thin-layer of mucilage remaining intact during the drying process. Less fruity than natural coffees, but with a more rounded acidity and sweetness than washed coffees.
Washed – The coffee cherry is completely washed away before the drying process. Without the presence of the coffee fruit, the flavor solely reflects the regional characteristics and growing conditions of the bean.
GROWING & TRADING
Microlot – Coffee harvested from a particular plot of land, band of altitude and processed in a separate way from the rest of the coffee from the farm, to amplify their special qualities.
Shade-grown – Coffee grown beneath a canopy of trees to benefit the natural environment. The trees filter carbon dioxide, minimize soil erosion, and provide bird habitat and greater biodiversity.
Fair Trade – a trading partnership and certification in which coffee farmers are paid a fair, minimum price for their coffee, contributing to sustainable development and protection of the rights of workers.
Direct Trade – A partnership in which the roaster buys coffee directly from the producer rather than from a broker, allowing mutually beneficial and respectful relationships to form between individual producers or cooperatives in the coffee-producing countries and roasters. Cutting out middleman buyers also allows for more control over the quality of the coffee, social issues, and environmental concerns.